I know the character appears to be cynical, rude and excessively selfish for the most part of the story, but a few scenes near the end of the most recent movie adaptation made me wonder if he didn't actually come to care just a tiny bit more about others than it seems. (That grateful look he gives Charlotte when she thanks him for everything, and the way he takes care of the eggs better than anyone else in the barn, for instance...) I'm just (uselessly) thinking, what if his individualistic behavior and the huge emphasis he puts on the fact that he only helps because it benefits him were all a big facade? When he complains in the book that no one ever has “a kind word for the rat” after all he’s done, I can see a huge ego looking for praise, but also an interesting vulnerability. I suspect he’s bitter because he’s aware that the other animals just see him as a nasty creature and, as opposed to Charlotte who is capable of seeing farther than her own “misery” and reaching out to others nonetheless (and who finally gets appreciated for her kindness even though she’s a spider), he might be the type who feels the need to protect himself against “people” he feels he can’t trust, who could take advantage of him if he let his heart soften up... I don’t know, I was just thinking that maybe his indifferent demeanor was a way of drawing others’ attention on the fact that he wasn’t obliged to help and might just like some recognition for the effort even as a rat, in his own independent-attitude way... Am I making any sense? (Or maybe I’m losing myself and I should really stop over-analyzing children’s literature, huh? ;)
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Wow, sounds like you were really analyzing this poor rat. You are right, it is a children's book. Templeton is largely comic relief. He is sort of the reluctant anti-hero who....Oh y god I think I'm doing the same thing as you now. Let’s keep it simple. He's a funny grumpy rat who, despite self serving motives, does help poor Wilbur to find words and save his poor pig-self.
Oh, I wasn’t expecting such a quick response! Hehe, sorry for coming up with this exaggerated (and I hope not too scary) analysis of Templeton's character. I think he would be mad at me for attempting to shatter his tough rat image! But you’ve got a point: since he’s basically just a comical character in a story for kids, I don’t suppose the author really intended him to be more developed than the grumpy rat he appears to be. I guess I just have too much fun getting ridiculously philosophical while looking for potentially interesting elements in stories that weren’t necessarily meant to go that deep. And I was curious to know if it was just me getting false ideas I wanted to see there, or if somebody else had the same feeling that maybe Templeton wasn't such a completely mean rat, deep down... Well, I take this as a very satisfying answer and I agree not to make his case even more complicated. Big thanks for taking the time to reply to my weird question!